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Classics

The union of impossible couples

The Catholic aspiration

 

 

In the 'Preface' that De Lubac himself placed before the Italian translation of this classic work of Christian literature of the twentieth century we encounter the following statement: 'My book is not a book on Catholicism or on the Catholic Church. It is a collection of various studies which in their diversity all seek to demonstrate the universal character, and more specifically the catholic character, of Christianity'.In the horizon of contemporary culture the universality (catholicity) of Christianity is often seen as a merely formal statement. How is it possible for the Christian faith to be universal if it rests completely on the singular event of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God who was made man, died, and rose again for our salvation? And yet the Christian claim is specifically this: the universal importance of 'that particular' that is Jesus Christ.This work of De Lubac, which Hans Urs von Balthasar described as a kind of programme of what would be the whole of the theological work of tsFrench Cardinal, sought to illustrate, beginning with the great Patristic and ecclesiastical tradition, the catholic dimension of the Christian faith: its capacity to meet in an objective way the aspirations of man,the fullness that it receives from the event of Jesus Christ, and the mission of the Church to gather together all men in a single body, respecting every person, people and culture, and at the same time witt falling into any kind of syncretism.

 

 

The first difficulty that presents itself is too obvious to be unobserved and too serious to be avoided. Does not to emphasise, as we have, the social character of dogma and what one could call the unitary element of Catholicism, mean, perhaps, to dangerously diminish or obscure that other truth, which is no less essential, namely that salvation for each person is a personal matter, that at the Judgement 'no one will come to the help of anyone else', and that people are separate for eternity? The statements of so many mystics on the 'unity' of the soul with God already come up against tenacious examples of distrust, and when a pious exaggeration or a lyricism that excludes all rigour in expression are not perceived, they are condemned as pantheistic. Is not perhaps the danger of pantheism doubled if we really want to take seriously the Augustinian formula in which is condensed, as we have seen, the doctrine expounded hitherto: unus Christus amans seipsum? Should one not at least recognise that in the Christian tradition as regards the salvation of man there exist two teachings that are difficult to reconcile? Not only the three great images of Holy Scripture the kingdom of heaven of the synoptic gospels; the social Body of St. Paul; the mystical life of St. John are irreducible and do not lend themselves to being organised into a single system. But the idea that they express, each in their own way, seems at first sight incompatible above all in the case of St. Paul and St. John with that very strict personalism that we specifically owe to Christian revelation, and whose practical importance is primordial.

 

 

This antinomy does not amaze us. This is not the only case where revelation offers us a pair of statements that seem at first discontinuous or even contradictory. God creates the world for His Glory, propter seipsum, and at any event out of pure goodness. Man is active and free, yet he cannot do anything without grace, and grace works 'wanting and acting' in man. The vision of God is a free gift, and yet the desire for it has its roots in the deepest part of every spirit. Redemption is the work of pure mercy, and the rights of justice are not for this reason less respected etc. In this way the whole of Dogma is nothing else but a series of 'paradoxes' that perturb natural reason, and involve not an impossible trial but a reflective justification. This is because although the spirit has to subject itself to the incomprehensible, it cannot receive the intelligible, and it is not sufficient for it to take refuge in an 'absence of contradiction' with an absence of thought. It is thus stimulated in its own submission. Against its natural laziness, it is forced to go beyond the shallow level in which the contradictions are to be found in order to penetrate deeper reasons where what was scandal to it is transformed into radiant shadows. At the very moment at which, without deceiving itself about the very precarious character of its undertaking, it works to build that coherent exposition of doctrine that is called theology, the illuminations that are bestowed upon it are of significant help in the work of philosophical reflection, which stimulates revelation in the spirit.

 

 

Thus this antinomy obliges us to reflect on the relationships of distinction and unity in order to understand, in a better way, the harmony of the personal and the universal. The dogmatic 'paradox' obliges us to emphasise the 'natural paradox', of which it is the higher and strengthened expression, that is to say that the more the distinction expresses itself amongst the different parts of being, the closer becomes the union of these parts. The more the parts work for unity, the less they are 'pieces' and the more they are 'limbs'. This is certainly a paradox for our spontaneous and still imaginative logic, and for a form of intelligence naturally suited to material objects: but truth imposed on us without us being able, however, to understand itself for itself by the dual convergent force of experience and faith.

 

Sense experience puts us on the right road. Indeed, it has been observed that a living being rises in the hierarchy of beings, acquires greater internal unity, as there gradually works within that being a deeper differentiation of functions and organs.

 

 

The undifferentiated, the pure homogenous, being, is the least possible 'one': it is a mass of anonymous dust. In certain elementary plants made of the same tissue unity is so weak that every cut on the stem produces a new plant. In contrary fashion, where the cells become complicated the organism is concentrated and the result of this is that the greater individuality of the parts works to the benefit of the unity of the whole. Beginning with the opposite term, moral experience, like the observation of life, moves us towards the same incomprehensible point.

 

 

Does not the psychology of a group of men who have come together freely to serve some great cause have characteristics that are clearly different from those to be observed in the psychology of the crowd? And does not the very phrase 'collective life', which in this last case means a pure and simple fusion, mean in the first case the exaltation of each personality? Similarly, does not the silent love of two beings perfect both of them, provoke in each one of them higher and irreducible values, that is to say ones that are more fully and more strictly personal, to the very extent that they confer greater unity, because they are more bestowed with spirituality? However, both biological and moral observation offers us only analogies: it moves around the truth that we are searching for, but from a distance, and without allowing us to state it in its fullness. A gross approximation of objective analysis, presentiments of the spiritual experience, all of this still remains without force. Faith, for its part, with the most secret of its mysteries, makes us touch the truth, but without allowing us to see it.

 

 

It places us in that precise centre, which for us is irremediably obscure, from whence springs definitive light. Do we not believe, in fact, that there are three divine Persons? It is not possible to conceive of oppositions that are stronger than those offered by these pure Relationships because these oppositions constitute them as a whole. Now, does not perhaps a same Nature spring forth in unity and from unity? The supreme coming forth of the Personality appears to us in this way, in the Being of which every being is a reflection image, shadow or vestige as the fruit, and contemporaneously the consecration, of the supreme Unity.

 

 

Uniting to Distinguish

 

Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Elvira, and yet others amongst those who tried to justify the faith of Nicea, had already observed this. They thought that it must be sufficient to free oneself from the habits of thought generated by the contemplation of material things so as to no longer see a contradiction in the enunciation of the dogma of the Trinity: 'when we speak of one God it is thought that we deny the Persons; but this is only pure appearance: in fact, we do not introduce into God the division that exists between bodies. Here we are no longer in the order of matter'. The support given to us by dogma in its turn allows us to strengthen and enlarge what a first reflection on experience began to suggest to us. Unity is not in any way confusion, just as distinction is not separation. Is not what is opposed perhaps equally joined, and by the most alive of all bonds that of a silent appeal? Real union does not tend to dissolve beings into the other beings that it unites but to complete them together.

 

 

Everything, therefore, is not 'the antipode but the very pole of the Person'. 'Distinguish to unite', it has been said, and the advice is excellent, but at an ontological level the complementary formula does not impose itself with any lesser strength unite to distinguish. In order to save the personal values one must not fear the unitary values, as though what conjoins the latter is lost to the former. 'Everything is one, each is in the other, like the three Persons'. Man, integrating himself into the great spiritual Body of which he is a part, neither loses himself nor becomes dissolved in subjecting himself or uniting himself to God. On the contrary: he finds himself, he frees himself, and he strengthens himself in being. And just as St. Augustine could say: solidabor in Te, Deus meus, so St. Idelphonse of Toledo could say with equal truth: in unitate ipsius Ecclesiae solidari.

 

 

Union Differentiates. Solidarity Solidifies

 

It appears that today this is better understood and this is certainly one of the best fruits of that 'Christian philosophy' which one searches for in vain in some specific system but whose widespread action attests to its presence: the person is not a sublimated individual nor a transcendent monad. God, who "did not create the world outside of Himself", did not even create spirits outside of each other. First of all, in order to awaken to conscious life does not each person need the 'other', another that he imagines if necessary and discovers in all things? This psychological truth is the symbol of a deeper truth: one has to be 'looked at' in order to be 'illuminated', and the eyes that 'lead to light' are not those of the divine alone. For that matter, is to be a 'person' not perhaps to be always entrusted with an office, according to the old original meaning, but one rendered interior? And is this not essentially to enter into a relationship with others in order to work together to a 'whole'? The appeal to personal life is a 'vocation', namely an appeal to carry out an eternal office. Perhaps one sees how the historical character that we have recognised Christianity as having ensures, like its social character, the seriousness of this office: because its length is irreversible, nothing happens in it except once, so that every act takes on in it, at one and the same time, a special dignity and a terrible gravity; and because the world is history, a unique history, the life of everyone is a drama.

 

 

In the One no loneliness but the fecundity of Life and the warmth of Presence: Numquam est sola Trinitas, numquam egens divinitas. In the Being that is sufficient to itself, no selfishness but the exchange of a perfect 'gift'. A distant imitation of the Being, the created spirit nonetheless reproduces something of His structure ad imaginem fecit eum and trained eyes recognise in it the sign of the creative Trinity. Isolated persons are not present each person, in his own being, receives from all, and must render to all his own being. Quid tam tuum quam tu? Sed quid tam non tuum quam tu, alicuius est quod es? This is like a dual system of exchanges, a dual mode of presence.

 

 

At root one can imagine the person as a grid of concentric arrows; in opening up, if one can express this inner paradox with a paradoxical formula, one may say that it is a centrifugal centre. As a consequence, one can also say, in order to magnify his inner richness and to express the characteristic of being an end that every other person must acknowledge the person has, that 'a person is a universe' but it is necessary to add immediately that this universe pre-supposes others with whom he makes a single whole. If, beyond all visible and mortal societies, you do not locate a mystic community, which has to be eternal, you abandon beings to their loneliness or you destroy them by crushing them. Whatever the case, you kill them because one can also die of asphyxiation.

 

 

The City of Living Stones

 

These observations can help us to escape from a dilemma in which the desire to render safe a more forcefully perceived aspect of total truth has not failed to embarrass certain spirits. Indeed, just as it has been possible not to allow that truth to be defeated by 'inverted individualists' or 'conformist sociologists' in the debate about the nature of the earthly city (which had been badly structured by them), so, equally, and with greater reason, one can refuse to take part in a discussion that wanted to be carried out in relation to the celestial city. And here it is advisable to remember a principle of Augustinian mysticism: inter animam et Deum, nulla natura interposita. Each person needs the 'mediation of everyone', but nobody is kept distant from any 'intermediary'. With this principle, the forceful perception of which St. Augustine owed to his faith, the non-Platonic idea that the Pseudo-Diogenes was to correct only in a very imperfect way is totally transformed: the hierarchical vision of the world gives way to that of the Civitas Dei.

 

 

This vision is not in the least individualistic but in truth that much more authentically spiritual! Amongst the various persons, however varied their gifts and unequal their 'merits' may be, an order of degrees of being does not rule, but rather, according to the imagination of the Trinity itself and through the mediation of Christ in which everyone is enveloped within the Trinity itself there is a unity of circuminsession. Each person does not constitute in himself and the fact is clear an ultimate end. The person is not a small absolute and independent world, and God does not love us as a large number of separate beings. Sociale quiddam est humana natura. But just as one could not follow the defenders, if there are any, of such personal atomism, so also one cannot follow those who, in reacting against the attribution of a disproportionate value to the human person, profess a kind of transcendent specificism and subordinate the end of persons to some other end adjudged to be higher.

 

 

This is because one can certainly sacrifice the individual to the species, or ask man to sacrifice his earthly life to the city. But when one speaks about sacrificing even one single being to the perfection of the universe, one is imagining a fictitious opposition between two goods that cannot be placed together. A universe that bought its beauty at such a price would be a universe without a price. To take them at their abstract rigour, the consequences of these two approaches go far. This is because, on the one hand, those who refuse simply to subordinate persons to the universe run the risk, if they are not careful, of falling into an anarchic individualism because they do not conceive in a net way of another universe, the spiritual universe, and, on the other hand, in contrary fashion, those who see that the good of individuals comes after the universal good could come to argue that the perfection of the universe, which is identical to the glory of God, requires there to be some damned a blasphemy that is certainly no more valuable than the idolatry it seeks to reject.

 

 

The society of persons is not an animal society. The unity of spirits is not a unity of a species. If in order to define the transcendent city we wanted to base ourselves, without correcting it, on the image of a city built of living stones vivis e lapidibus we would deceive ourselves. The image is truly traditional but its meaning is very different from the one we could be tempted to find there. Vivis et electis lapidibus. In the famous hymn of the Dedication, as in the Apocalypse, in the first Letter of St. Paul and in other similar texts, the allusion is not at all to the universe in general but to the celestial Jerusalem, to that divine City where no chosen person is sacrificed. This is because 'nothing enters there that is stained' and the stones that were not worthy to serve the building were rejected beforehand.

 

 

'We have learnt from Peter', writes for example Origen, 'that the Church is a house of God built on living stones, a spiritual Home looking forward to a holy Priesthood. Solomon, who built the Temple, is in this the figure of Christ...Each one of the living stones (the Saints), according to the dignity that they acquire in this earthly life, will have a place in this Temple of heaven. One, apostle or prophet, will be placed in the foundations to support the whole of the superstructure. Another, coming afterwards, supported by the apostles, together with these will support other less resistant stones. There will also be a stone within, where the ark and the cherubs are. Another will be the stone of the vestibule, and yet another will be the stone of the altar of the offerings'.

 

 

This Temple, this holy City, whose future splendour was contemplated by the Prophet, and which here down below, without it being seen, must be built stone by stone ad aedificandam Ecclesiam is not, therefore, like our human buildings with their underground foundations, their hidden materials, their darkened basements: built from this very moment in heaven, its foundation is at its summit; it is a city completely of light lucerna eius est Agnusand the 'exterior shadows' were not necessary for its splendour. Without foregoing, as a result, the analogy of a building, we will not take literally a metaphor that corrects itself. The more we move towards an exact intelligence of spiritual reality, the more we will understand overcoming a conflict in which each person wants to save an essential aspect of truth that Catholicism and personalism are in agreement and mutually strengthen each other.

 

 

The Revelation of Man

 

For that matter, do we not observe, perhaps, that the two orders of values, far from damaging each other, have been promoted jointly? And it is for this reason a fact that one must recognise as being valid, even at the cost of scandalising our shallow logic. Christian revelation 'has extended to the extreme the horizons of human community in which every 'self' finds itself at its birth; and at the same time has strengthened to the utmost the existence of this 'self', the lowest element of that community. Revelation of universal brotherhood in Christ, revelation of the absolute value of each man...The term 'person' is completely suited to meaning the dual opposed quality that we thus have of our supernatural destiny: on the one hand, it helps us to reveal that each one of us, because of this destiny, acquires an incommensurable price as regards the rest of nature, and to such a degree that for everyone it becomes an object of sovereign respect, and, on the other, in this absolute value communicated by Christ our freedom finds its sole end: to achieve a perfect community amongst everyone'.

 

 

The whole of the history of the Church, if we know how to ask questions about it, here brings its testimony: the whole of Christianity now underway, in the experience of its great spiritual masters, in the action of its great apostles, in its collective life, at the moments when its lymph circulates most abundantly, and above all in these privileged days of its origins, to which, without prejudices as to the archaic, we should incessantly return. In their reflections on this life the doctors may be very varying and yet they are indefinitely capable of translating a truth which, still completely concrete but already completely explicit, shines from the outset. The Spirit that Christ promised that he would send to his own, his Spirit is both he who makes the Gospel enter into the depths of the soul and he who spreads it everywhere. It digs in man new depths that align man with 'the depths of God', and it throws him outside of himself to the boundaries of the earth; it universalises and renders interior; it gives personality and unifies.

 

 

In no place does this dual movement of the Spirit, this simultaneous and correlative duality of revelation, perhaps appear better than in the conversion of St. Paul as related by the saint himself. One of the newest phrases, and richest in meaning, that has ever emerged from man was pronounced by Paul the day, when forced to present his own apology to his beloved Galatians in order to bring them back to the road of righteousness, that he uttered the following words: 'when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me'. Not only whatever may be the nature of the external wonder that the Acts of the Apostles have handed down to us to reveal his Son to me, to show me him through some vision or make me understand him objectively, but also: to reveal him in 'me'. In revealing the Father and being revealed by Him, Christ comes to reveal man to himself.

 

 

In taking possession of man, grasping him and penetrating to the very depths of his being, he also obliges him to descend within himself so as to find there in a brusque way regions that were previously unsuspected. Through Christ the Person is adult, Man emerges definitively from the universe and gains full consciousness of himself. Thereafter, even before the triumphant cry, agnosce, o christiane, dignitatem tuam, it would be possible to celebrate the dignity of man dignitatem conditionae humanae. The precept of the sage 'know yourself' takes on a new meaning. Every man in saying 'I' pronounces something that is absolute, is definitive. Now in the same passage from the Letter to the Galatians St. Paul adds: 'that I might preach to the Gentiles'.

 

 

His 'conversion' is a 'vocation'. He cannot remain alone with that Christ that he has now found in himself. There is imposed on him, at the same moment and with the same urgent importance as service to Christ, service to men his brethren service to everyone 'without any exception'. 'The whole of mankind finds space in his heart'. This, too, is new. In the call to the apostleship of the Gentiles, as in the rebuke that Christ had made him feel, taking upon himself the sufferings of his own, 'something was implicit by which man finished discovering his dimensions': through Christian revelation not only did the gaze that man fixes upon himself grow deeper but the gaze that he turns to what is round him also grew broader. Henceforth, human unity is conceived. The Image of God, the Image of the Word that the Word made flesh restores, and to which he renders his splendour, is myself, the other, and every other person. It is this point of myself that coincides with every other person; it is the sign of our shared origin and is the call to our shared destiny. It is our very unity, in God.

 

 

If, therefore, there has been in our past some 'decisive event' that a historian has the duty to record as 'emotion', which opened to our perspectives 'the joy of a radically universal communion', we know where to locate this event, and we will not look for it in Greece, in the life of a disciples of Pythagoras, who discovered 'the instrument of calculation' pure arithmetic. Without underestimating the immense importance of such an invention, it is impossible for us to attribute to it, in itself, the minimal fecundity of such an order. 'The universality of communion in the incorruptible and irrefutable light of the Word' cannot appear to us as anything but a contradictio in terminis, because in that Word intelligences coincide but beings do not unite. Just as proximity is not a presence, so coincidence is not a communion. There is no real unity without persistent otherness. How, then, could one speak without 'equivocations' about a 'solidarity of the inner and the universal', given that in fact they suppress both of these two terms. Would this not be, once again, a way of 'bending the rigours of analysis before the pleasures of synthesis'?

 

 

It should be confessed, rather, that the dreamed for joy is an illusion, and the decision should be taken to look for it elsewhere and not in the completely abstract function of an empty form, which itself is not thinkable without there being reference to a spatial multiplicity. For that matter, it is a fact that nowhere outside the influence of Christianity has man been able, at the least, to define its conditions, always oscillating between the imagination of an individual survival, which leaves beings separate, and a reflection that absorbs them into the One. The dilemma cannot be overcome by any abstract logic whether of concept or judgement that functions according to a law of identity or according to the law of participation. A real perception is needed at the base that understands through a single look, beyond every spatial insight, the bond of the personal and the universal.

 

 

But it is not sufficient to conceive of this bond for it to be achieved. The idea of unity is not unity itself. The revelation of Christ cannot be disassociated from the action of Christ, and it would not be possible to ensure the benefit of one by rejecting the other. If, as we have seen, an isolated person is a non-sense, in contrary fashion a completely fulfilled person, that is to say a perfectly universalised person, would, without Christ, be an impossibility. Left to ourselves, how could we ever achieve that 'passage to the limit' that has to give us access to the renewed world, to that world 'upheld by the mysterious immanence of one in all and all in one?'. A dual obstacle, which is naturally insuperable, rises up in front of us, barring our access to the Promised Land: that obstacle of our selfishness and that obstacle of our individuality a moral obstacle and a metaphysical obstacle, where one is the reinforced expression of the other. We neither want nor can, naturally enough, and this despite the desire of our being, communicate entirely to everyone, thereby achieving that miracle of election without exclusion of which agape consists...But what is impossible to man alone becomes possible to divinised man, and what natural intelligence rejected as a chimera becomes the sacred object of hope.

 

 

Completing humanity in himself, at that very moment Christ completed all of us, but in God. Thus one can say in the final analysis, taking up theof St. Paul and the person of St. Augustine, that we are fully personal only within the Person of the Son, by whom and in whom we share in the exchanges of the Life of the Trinity. Just as Christ, after effecting his victory had to consign the Kingdom to the Father with an eternal act, so and this is still the same act expressed with other words he will never cease, with an eternal act, to complete us, to personalise us, in him.

 

 

Catholicism and the Inner Life

 

Catholic spirituality would not, therefore, have to choose between an 'inner' tendency and a 'social' tendency, but instead, in all their extraordinary variety, all its authentic forms would participate in both. It is not for any of us to forget the moving thought of St. Paul: 'he loved me and gave himself for me'; nor the corresponding phrase of Christ to Pascal in Mystère de Jésus: 'I shed this drop of blood for you'; nor the invitations of the Imitation to withdrawal and silence. We will know how to appreciate and to make our own, without suspecting it in a forced way of self-centredness, the phrase that is repeated like a leitmotif under the pen of Newman, 'God and myself', a phrase that invokes so closely the advice of St. Ignatius whose Exercises he had to perform...Is not the whole of spiritual life perhaps made up of these contrasts: alternating times or rather experienced coincidences?

 

 

For that matter, nothing would be more fatal than believing that a true catholicity could be achieved easily. Nobody can gain access to it other than by the narrow way. Its first conditions are to be found in detachment and solitude, and the most charitable of all, the saint, is first of all, according to the ancient etymology, a separated person. Just as one cannot forget that justice, charity that is aware of its requirements, does not neglect the most secret of works or pay scant attention to duties 'towards oneself'. Although, from the first involvement this is what must animate everything, the perfect unity that it alone achieves and that alone is worthy of the efforts of man, cannot be anything else but the end of a long journey, a victory after numerous and harsh fights.

 

 

Indeed, there is within us what we must love in others, an image of God to be restored. To leave it in us stained and disfigured is a sign that despite our affirmations what interests us in others is not our real being. They are only an opportunity to satisfy our need for externalisation...Does one need to add that such activity will never generate fertile results? Without the principle that should regulate it, it will end up with indiscretion, it will not know the respect that a soul deserves. On a religious terrain it becomes the most inept and the most baleful of all forms of proselytism.

 

 

Charity, for that matter, knows how to distinguish between the vast dreams that injure individual action and a universal intention which, in transfiguring the most humble duty, ensures that one dedicates oneself with greater heart. Charity knows that it is necessary to reject oneself a great deal in order to acquire with which to give and that to give of oneself is not to diffuse oneself and also that it is necessary to break many natural ties if one wants to establish the divine bonds of grace. And in precise terms, what today is of more urgent importance that recalling man to himself? What is happening to spirituality is happening to culture and thought: it works solely to the benefit of man's disinterest. In everything that concerns the spirit utilitarianism is to be feared, given that it is not only shallow but also corrupting, giving rise infallibly to falsehood.

 

 

In contrary fashion, 'the capacity for presence grows with the capacity to gather'. Beyond the meaning of words and gestures, the 'communion' of spirits only functions because of what they have that is most 'personal' for them, and one could say 'for what they have that is most incommunicable for them'. This is because one really communicates in that which one does not communicate externally. The hidden virtues, those virtues as Bossuet says 'in which the public has no part', do not, therefore, lack a social justification. And the contemplative orders, too, are not without them. The religious who dedicate themselves to the study of Holy Scripture and 'meditate day and night on the law of the Lord', do so, according to St. Thomas, for the common utility of the whole of the Church, and it is this that allows them, even though they do not preach or teach, to live legitimately from alms.

 

 

This is a bold conclusion but one which obliges its beneficiary to engage in a serious examination of conscience. Whatever the case, the principle which is its foundation is incontestable. As Teilhard de Chardin writes in a magnificent comparison: 'if we were able to perceive the invisible light as we do the clouds, lightning or the rays of the sun, pure souls would appear to us in this way so active, because of their purity alone, like the snowy caps whose impassable heights aspire constantly for us to the wandering powers of the upper atmosphere'.

 

 

Thus it is that personal religion and the inner life are not in the least synonyms for individualism or religious subjectivism. 'Real religion is a life that is hidden in the heart', but there is nothing about it that involves a selfish turning in on oneself. We can still truthfully say with St. Cyprian of prayers in secret: 'Publica est nobis et communis oratio, et quando oramus, non pro uno sed pro popolo toto oramus, quia totus populus unum sumus. Deus pacis et concordiae magister qui docuit unitatem, sic orare unum pro omnibus voluit, quomodo in uno omnes ipse portavit'. And after declaring 'Deum et animam scire cupio', St. Augustine does not fail to add: 'Animas nostras et Deum simul concorditer inquiramus'. The highest level of spiritual life receives from Ruysbroeck the name 'shared life' because in this state man is at the service of everyone.

 

 

St. John of the Cross meant the same according to the testimony of Eliseus of the Martyrs, who handed down to us the following statements: 'interpreting the words of Christ "did you not know that I must attend to the matters of my Father?", he says that these matters of the Father here must be interpreted only as the redemption of the world...and that it is an evident truth that compassion for one's neighbour grows the more the soul unites with God in love'.

 

 

Although it is mortal for certain refinements of spirituality, for a certain kind of psychologism that is overly led to take pleasure in its analyses, the attitude of Catholicism lived in prayer to this is one of seeing parasites. It provides to the spirit its vigour and its drive. The same correlation is to be found between experience and thought, and it would still be a deceptive 'specificism' that opposed them, as though one had necessarily to choose between an experience that was person.

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